This is often a serious mountain town. So serious that Travel + Leisure referred to it as considered one of America’s favorite mountain towns. After we wanted to guess, we’d voice it out probably has something related to the fact Missoula is in the middle of five mountain ranges: the Sapphire Range, the Garnet Range, the Rattlesnake Mountains, the Reservation Divide, and the Bitterroot Mountains. That’s five mountain ranges to mountain bike in, to hike in, to horseback ride in, to get though, to simply sit in, so they can focus on the birds along with the breezes in.
That means there’s lots of national forests, national wilderness areas, together with other generally awesome places which are really easy to access from Missoula. Pro tip: Visit the Rattlesnake National Area and Wilderness. The key trailhead here starts approximately four miles from your city, and bam — you’re in the heart of more than 60,000 acres of wilderness. You’ll find 50 small creeks, a lot more than two dozen alpine lakes, and enough waterfalls a Instagram brimming.
2. There’s live music every day of the week.
Montana carries a track record of country music, cowboy songs, and pioneer folk. And that’s all awesome. But you will discover yourself surprised when you hear the sheer number of tunes permeating the streets of Missoula. There’s an abundance of great venues here, and musicians are priced between world-famous bands to local artists playing their first gig.
There so many venues available: Big Sky Brewing has it own outdoor amphitheater (hosting everyone on the Decemberists towards the Shrednecks), where they hold a summer concert series with, not surprisingly, locally brewed beer. This is to catch the awesome Travelers Rest Fest in August. Another beer-plus-music venture would be the new outdoor KettleHouse Amphitheater, located beside the KettleHouse Brewery, over the banks of your Blackfoot River. Their summer lineup looks equally impressive.
Built in 1921, The Wilma also gets big bands — from Macklemore to Nickel Creek — but with red velvet curtains, plush seats, and amazing ornate ceilings to set the scene. After which it there’s the Missoula Symphony Association, which is knocking the socks off music connoisseurs for Six decades. Have a look at amongst their regular-season concerts, or bring an open-air picnic blanket for any huge (and free!) outdoor summer concert in August. No matter what you’re into, just setting off around town and follow your ears.
3. You can check out a legit ghost town.
Back inside late Nineteenth century, some 1,000 people lived within a thriving mountain town called Garnet, 30 miles outside Missoula. Any longer. It didn’t take very long for that gold that brought people converging on region with the hundreds to every one but disappear, by the 1940s, every business in Garnet was shuttered — including all 13 in the local saloons.
The classic storefronts and evidence of past residents remain, though. It’s $3/adult for more information on Garnet Ghost Town, and also the roads are open May to December. If you\’d like to visit inside dead of winter to have an all the more ghostly experience, Garnet is also accessible by cross-country ski or snowmobile. This can be the best-preserved ghost town from the state, so come prepared to wander through old buildings that seem to be almost like the residents just up and left, home still intact. Whether or not this wasn’t for that peeling plaster walls, you’d think they might nevertheless be coming back…
4. This really is one of several country’s top bike-friendly cities.
So you thought this became a mountain town where everyone drives 4x4s? Think again. Missoula is officially a gold level bike-friendly city. The cycling’s so competent here that Missoula was named among the many top ten biking cities in the united kingdom by Outside Magazine. And be a part of the two-wheeled fun too, of course. Missoula has over 20 miles of motorcycle routes, bike lanes, and bike trails.
Or you may dream bigger and farther. Connecting Missoula with the tiny capital of scotland – Hamilton is definitely the Bitterroot Trail, a 50-mile paved bike path the Bitterroot Mountains where you’ll ride side-by-side with rocky peaks, babbling brooks, and forested slopes. Yep, it’s idyllic. Pro tip: Plan a round day at among the tiny communities in the act, then pedal here we are at Missoula for a well-deserved Moose Drool, Bufflehead Brown, or Mountaintop Wet Hop (that’s Montanan for “beer”) at certainly one of Missoula’s many craft breweries.
Don’t possess a bike? Donrrrt worry about it. You can always rent one. And Missoula is pro-bike that some spots lend bikes totally free and a tiny donation. Yes, totally free.
5. Missoula is covered with hot springs.
Whether you desire a first-class pool fed by steaming hot water, or maybe a rocky area to create a bath from a natural spring, Missoula can be a short jaunt from both.
Lolo Hot Springs has modern pools of 102- to 106-degree water, enclosed by towering ponderosa pines and forested mountains — and it’s fewer than an hour away. On an even more natural setting, you are able to head farther afield on Highway 12 to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs, an inconspicuous natural pool among boulders and logs that’s fed using a waterfall. Getting there will probably require a bit of over per hour, turning it into the best trip from Missoula. Remember that it’s far better to visit post-spring-runoff (so, summer through winter), and there’s a simple one-mile trail on the car parking zone. Experience, snap several photos, then return to town for any cosmopolitan meal.
6. You could ride a hand-carved carousel.
You could consider it good, ol’ fashioned fun. At the side of Dragon Hollow Playground — magical on its own — and overlooking the Clark Fork River, you’ll find 38 horses dancing in perpetuity. Freya, Columbia Bell, Hard Hat, Koko — they’re all hand-carved wooden ponies which have been part of A Carousel for Missoula.
This extraordinary piece is a consequence of 100,000 hours of volunteer effort — that’d be 11 round-the-clock a great deal of care and difficult work — as well as being among the first fully hand-carved carousels to remain built in the land within the last 80 possibly even years. You can find the 38 ponies, plus two chariots, 14 gargoyles, plus the largest band organ in continuous use within north america. Maybe it’s nostalgia, or even it’s the incredible show of community spirit, but it’s to not get giddy if the music begins plus the horses commence to “dance.”
7. It’s a vegetarian paradise down the middle of beef country.
There are 2.6 million cattle in Montana, which means no shortage of t-bones, ribeyes, BBQs, and babybacks. Yet this is ranch country, and that means you probably knew everything that already. Missoula, however, doesn’t just meet the needs of those looking for tenderloin. Probably partly because it’s a faculty town, this is an amazing place to go for the foodies in your lifetime that are vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/any other dietary restriction you possibly can imagine.
And we don’t mean Missoula just has a lot of fresh veggies (that this does, furthermore. Read the farmers’ markets — yes, plural — for amazing local produce…and quiches, and cupcakes, and organic soap, and locally grown sunflowers, so you understand). We’re talking vegan maple tofu-bacon donuts. We’re talking fresh-baked gluten-free pumpkin sage dinner rolls. We’re talking vegan coffee-glazed donuts with delicious chocolate ganache. Vegan polenta. Gluten-free English muffins. Vegan Tuscan mushroom pizza. Brazilian veggie bowls with roasted beets and jicama. A list goes on…
Whether you’re trying to find vegan options or gluten-friendly, you’ll think it is here. And there’s a good chance it’ll be across the street from a rockin’ steakhouse.
8. The city carries a “Hip Strip.”
Wander relating to the south end with the Higgins Street Bridge plus the intersection of Brooks and Higgins, and you’re within the Hip Strip. Besides all-around good vibes here, but you’ll soon see that the lenders are 100% locally owned — and they’re as quirky and varied as Missoulans themselves. Flip through records at Rockin Rudys Record Heaven, browse the 7,500 kinds of beads (and related things!) at Bathing Beauties Beads, breathe deeply of essential oils at Meadowsweet Herbs, or read the gleanings of any number of self-described “fearless treasure hunters” at Divine Trash Vintage.
When you’re sufficiently exhausted, head across the street to Bernice’s Bakery for most white-chocolate huckleberry cream pie and a organic espresso. You’re welcome.
9. A river does indeed tell you it.
You be aware of movie. It’s the person starring Brad Pitt; it won an Oscar. Anyone who’s seen A River Runs Through It, situation of two brothers we were young in Missoula, has probably entertained a fantasy of handling it all up all night angling. At the very least for your time.
And that fantasy may be found true, for those who so desire. Town sits for the confluence of three rivers: the Blackfoot, the Clark Fork, as well as the Bitterroot. The abundance of flowing water in the community means you possibly can use banks in the Clark Fork River in downtown or head out of town with a self-help guide to explore the streams from the Bitterroot Mountains, or anything amongst.
You don’t need to fish to experience the forest, though — a stroll for the Riverfront Walking Trail is just a wonderful way to shell out the twilight hours walking off all those vegan chocolate ganache donuts. It right and you’ll find some live music, or bring an open-air meal and see sunshine drop behind the encircling hills. Your choices don’t end there. You can even SUP, kayak, and be in the whitewater…all in the heart of downtown Missoula. Oh, and you could surf right downtown, too.
Surfing in the midst of Montana — surprising? Maybe. Awesome? Definitely.